New Delhi: An opinion poll appearing in a major English daily on Thursday revealed that 44 percent of Indians are likely to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which currently heads the government in Delhi.
The poll immediately sparked off a debate among politicians.
A research agency for India’s national newspaper, Times of India, conducted a poll across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad.
The poll also claimed that a majority of Indians view Narendra Modi as a better prime ministerial prospect than Arvind Kejriwal, with Rahul Gandhi hardly receiving any votes.
Congress leader Jagdambika Pal expressed concern over the poll and urged political parties to work in the interest of the people.
“It is not only concerning for the Congress Party, but also for all other parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the survey has reflected the changed mindset of the people. I think political parties should live up to the expectations of the people,” said Pal.
Earlier, an opinion poll had showed the Congress and the BJP losing popularity with regional groups set to take nearly half of parliament seats in the April-May 2014 elections.
BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “We will take a lesson from these types of surveys, and we will move forward.”
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which emerged from an anti-corruption movement, trounced the ruling Congress in Delhi in the recent polls. But the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 32 members.
The Congress could manage only eight members in the recently held assembly polls, and agreed to give support to 28-member AAP to form the government.
However, the BJP refused to form government as it lacked a majority.
Janata Dal-United leader Shivanand Tiwari said: “It seemed that Bharatiya Janata Party was the only party against Congress. But now the situation has changed and the people of Bharatiya Janata Party who were thinking that they will benefit from the defeat of Congress will not get any advantage in the presence of Aam Aadmi Party.”
Earlier, the Election Commission had sought the views of the political parties on restricting publication and dissemination of opinion polls during elections.
In a written reply to the Commission October last year, the Congress party said that it “fully endorses the views of the Election Commission of India to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion polls during the election”.
The legal department of the Congress Party stated that opinion polls can be misused, and they are not scientific or credible.
The opinion polls have been projecting poor show of the Congress in some states where Assembly Elections are scheduled to take place.
Delhi Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia said: “We have always remained against imposing ban on opinion polls. If any survey is conducted then the details should come before the people so that if people have any questions about the credibility of the survey then they can see it.”
The Congress is due to hold a top-level meeting on January 17 and is expected to announce its prime ministerial candidate soon afterwards.
Whoever gets the nod will face off in the election against Narendra Modi.
Modi is campaigning on a platform to revive an economy growing at its slowest in a decade and end the red tape and corruption that have bedevilled the Congress-led coalition.
The Congress fared badly in elections in four large states towards the end of last year, largely due to voters’ anger over corruption.